The war on poorer retirees

There has been a concerted effort by the wealthy class in the US to get the media to think that cutting the debt is the biggest issue facing the nation and that there is only one way to do that and that is by cutting earned benefits. Peter G. Peterson, the billionaire former commerce secretary and co-founder of the Blackstone private equity group, is one of the leaders of this movement.
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The new gilded age

Jon Perr displays ten graphs that chart various economic measures over the last century or so. These include the share of total income by the top income brackets, CEO-to-worker compensation ratios, marginal tax rates for the highest income levels, effective tax rates, average incomes, and more. The graphs are spectacular in their clarity even if depressing in their implications. I reproduce just one because it is illustrative of a point that I wish to make.
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The return of Karl Marx

Karl Marx is one of the major influences in the whole field of political economy. Even those who think he is the embodiment of evil have to acknowledge how much his analyses of capitalism has shaped the way we view things and structure our socieities. But some of his most publicized predictions were spectacularly wrong, chief among them that the communist revolution would first occur in advanced industrial societies like Germany during his time. The fact that it happened in the more backward feudal and agrarian country of Russia, plus the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift of so many formerly Communist nations such as those in Russia, Eastern Europe, and China to more market-based economies were widely portrayed by his critics as conclusively demonstrating failure of his entire theory of political economy and seemed the occasion to bury Marx’s ideas for good. [Read more…]

Geithner goes to Wall Street

Timothy Geithner has, during his entire time as governor of the New York Fed and then as Treasury Secretary, been a loyal servant of Wall Street and the big banks. Neil Barofksy, in his blistering expose and insider’s view of how the financial bailout played out, showed how Geithner and the other senior executives in Treasury seemed to see their role as serving the interests of the banks rather than the taxpayers who were paying their salaries. [Read more…]

That’s an outrage!

Yesterday’s Plain Dealer had a story that same-sex couples legally married in another state but residing in Ohio will pay lower taxes than that paid by heterosexual couples in the same economic situation. The constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages passed back in 2004 when opposition was at its peak has now led to the delicious irony of same-sex couples paying lower taxes than heterosexual couples. [Read more…]

The (prescription) drug cartel in the US

It is no secret that many prescription drugs are extremely expensive. Much of the price is not due to the actual cost of manufacture but due to the companies that produced them seeking to recoup the costs of their research and development and marketing investment plus their profit margin. The difficult question is how to balance the legitimate needs of the drug companies to stay in business while preventing them from simply gouging sick people for profit. What seems to be the case, at least in the US, is that the insatiable desire for profits by the drug companies are the main driver of the rapidly increasing prices. Timothy Noah says that drug companies make huge profits while artificially inflating the cost of bringing new drugs to market. [Read more…]

Why does Jamie Dimon still have his job?

The mega-investment bank JP Morgan Chase has been at the end of repeated bad news. It just reported its first quarterly loss in ten years. What was interesting is that this was largely due to the bank having to set aside $9.2 billion in lawyers’ fees, which gives you some idea of the extent of the charges of wrongdoing that it has to defend itself against. [Read more…]